Transgender Voices from Prison Describe Abuse and Isolation…and Other News on Solitary Confinement This Week

Seven Days in Solitary for the Week Ending 6/12/24

by | June 12, 2024

This week’s pick of news and commentary about solitary confinement:

Of the nearly one in six transgender people who report experiencing prison or jail, most will also face violence and solitary confinement while incarcerated. Despite knowing the disproportionate harm faced by transgender incarcerated people, their voices often go unheard. “People are the experts of their own lives,” says Kenna Barnes, advocacy manager for Black and Pink National, “Society often sees people who have been incarcerated—or who are incarcerated—as folks who don’t know what they need. And they certainly do.” In a recent series of interviews, the Vera Institute of Justice asked five transgender people about their experiences being incarcerated. The interviewees described facing abuse and being placed in long-term solitary confinement for punishment or “protection,” and called for more humane treatment. Ky (he/him) recalled: “I would lash out when they would say things to me. Then I realized that they would do this just so they could bring charges on me to take me to lockdown in a solitary confinement cell. I would be in lockdown for a month at a time. For a year, I was in and out of lockdown. Sometimes they would turn the lights on and leave them on forever as a way to irritate people. Or they would just leave you in complete darkness. You could go a day, or two days, without them turning the lights on. You had no light except the little light coming in under your door. When we were in lockdown, we would scream to each other through the vents, like, ‘Hey what are you doing over there?’ We would try to slide notes across the floor to other cells, just to have some human contact. If the officers saw us slipping paper under the door, they would step on it and throw it away, or they would get it and read it in front of everybody.” Vera Institute of Justice 

The Warden of Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Facility and eight other staff members are facing felony charges related to the deaths of four incarcerated people. Dean Hoffman, the first death under investigation, died by suicide while in solitary confinement. The other three deaths included a man who died of severe dehydration and another who wasn’t found for 12 hours after he died of a stroke. In addition to being the oldest maximum-security facility in Wisconsin, Waupun is one of several facilities in the state criticized for placing incarcerated people under prolonged lockdowns. WFTV 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has asked a judge to override the City Council’s recent ban on solitary confinement. According to court documents, the Adams Administration claims that the ban conflicts with the parameters outlined in an earlier case which appointed a federal monitor to Rikers Island, and impedes the monitor from complying with court orders. This is the latest attempt from Adams to prevent the ban from going into effect after the City Council overrode his veto earlier this year. NY Daily News 

Following a visit to the Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail last month, two oversight officials reported staff members ignoring the presence of a noose in one solitary confinement cell. During the visit, one inspector reported the noose to eight staff members who brushed him off and continued watching a “sexually explicit” video on a TV. The inspectors became more concerned when they learned that one officer had walked past the cell on a safety check and ignored the noose. Only after several attempts at bringing the situation to the jailers’ attention was the noose removed. “The degree of callousness they were exhibiting was just horrific,” said Eric Miller, one of the two Sybil Brand Commission inspectors. Los Angeles Times

Get this weekly roundup in your mail every Wednesday, covering the past seven days of solitary confinement news and commentary. Subscribe today.

The work we do is made possible by your support. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation—large or small—today.


Solitary Watch encourages comments and welcomes a range of ideas, opinions, debates, and respectful disagreement. We do not allow name-calling, bullying, cursing, or personal attacks of any kind. Any embedded links should be to information relevant to the conversation. Comments that violate these guidelines will be removed, and repeat offenders will be blocked. Thank you for your cooperation.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Solitary Watch

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading